In recent times, the Global Fleet Management industry has been riding a wave of technology-driven innovations that have profoundly impacted efficiencies in various aspects of the business.
At the heart of these innovations is ‘Fleet Telematics’ – an expanding genre of IOT connectivity technologies that are being adopted across the globe at an accelerated pace.
As quoted by Mckinsey, the global market for fleet telematics hardware, software and services is slated to grow at around 23 percent per annum for the next six years, becoming a $75 billion industry by 2025.
In truth, these technologies promise a plethora of possibilities that many fleet companies are only beginning to comprehend. Here is a look at various ways connectivity can drive efficiencies in fleet management:
1.Automated route planning
When it comes to route planning, the shortest route is seldom the most effective.
Intelligent navigation systems can now take into account a host of information including sales territories, planned pick-ups/ deliveries, vehicle characteristics and storage capacities, as well as on-ground information.
The end result is optimal routing that translates into reduced travel time, lesser miles covered, and lesser number of vehicles used.
The saved resources can then be applied to service new commitments across wider territories, thereby increasing productivity, sales and profit.
2.Efficient dispatch systems
Routing systems now harness the power of vehicle telematics, cloud and smartphone technologies to establish real time connectivity between drivers, fleet operators and customers.
This ensures the best possible match between customer requirement, vehicle type and location, without involving human intervention.
3.Real time route execution tracking
The best laid out route plans can go awry if the on-ground conditions change when the vehicle hits the road.
Advanced tracking technology can dynamically link map, schedule and vehicle data to make adjustments and course corrections when required.
At the same time, it continuously tracks and measures planned vs. on-the-road performance, to fine tune the planning process, keeping productivity goals on track.
IOT based tracking devices/ sensors can be attached to vehicles, equipment or other assets.
These devices are able to constantly collect and transmit a stream of geo-locational and environmental data, which is processed and delivered over a data dashboard, using cloud -based technologies.
This information can be used to ascertain the safety of assets, as well as their location and the speed at which they are traveling to their destination.
In addition, data regarding local weather and road conditions can be used to make route corrections when required.
5.Vehicle performance tracking
Fleet owners can track various vehicle parameters such as speed, fuel consumption, engine faults, temperature, CO2 emissions etc. and use this data to make strategic vehicle choices, to maintain a healthy ROI.
Essentially, vehicles are selected for actual performance on the road, rather than that claimed by manufacturers/ suppliers.
6.Managing fuel efficiency
Fuel efficiency of vehicles can be analyzed by looking at fuel card purchases along with vehicle telematics and scheduling data, to understand how a vehicle performed and how it was driven.
Any issues can be quickly identified and addressed, to bring better vehicle utilization and increased fuel efficiency.
7.Managing driver behavior
When drivers resort to excessive speeding or braking or tend to leave the engine idling for a longer time, their driving behavior adversely impacts fuel efficiency and over all the vehicle health.
Using vehicle tracking data, fleet managers can review driver behavior by trip and even receive alerts when specified threshold limits are crossed. Managers can then identify drivers that needs training or corrective instruction.
8.Improving employee satisfaction / morale
When drivers are given specific suggestions to improve their performance in real time, they can instantly act upon them and see immediate results, as apposed to a system where they are taken aside and questioned in a post mortem exercise.
Also, every driver’s performance is evaluated on a set of objective parameters, which eliminates any possibility of bias at the time of appraisals.
9.Monitoring down time
Fleet managers can actively monitor down time, along with vehicle data such as mileage, fuel efficiency, driver behavior, frequency of breakdowns, repairs and servicing.
This will help them predict issues in advance, investigate possible reasons, and take corrective steps to preempt any breakdowns in service, and avoid customer dissatisfaction.
When fleet managers are able to monitor vehicle conditions and predict performance issues beforehand, they can then proactively plan servicing and maintenance schedules in a way that would prevent major repairs further down the line, and cause minimum disruptions in service.
11.Monitoring fleet and driver safety
Fleet Managers can monitor driver safety habits and conformance to driver/vehicle inspection checklists.
They can further configure automated alerts to be sent to the driver when he defaults on any of the safety parameters.
In the event of any serious violation, an accident or any other eventuality, fleet managers can receive instant alerts on their phone, helping them to take immediate action.
12.Ensuring timely compliance
Telematics can also help fleet operators comply with Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulations in U.S and Canada by measuring and recording Hours of Service (HOS). Similarly, in the European Union, it can help to comply with drivers’ hours and tachograph requirements.
With rapid advances in technology, fleet telematics has evolved into an open- ended platform, with growing capacities to integrate with other hardware, software and mobile platforms.
However, a key issue that companies face with being able to effectively use fleet telematics data, is providing for data storage and data analytics capability.
Add to that, the challenge of integrating the telematics data with the organization’s internal data streams.
A well-designed fleet management software can effectively integrate connectivity data with organizational data viz., fleet policy, compliance requirements, driver details, fuel receipts, maintenance records, vehicle acquisition and operational costs etc.
The software can then provide actionable and timely insights that fleet operators can act upon with confidence, to achieve greater productivity, reduce costs and increase operational efficiency.